Come to my Garden V

The (more than) Seven Varieties

Thy plants are comparable to an orchard, set about with pom’granates, with the precious fruits there-of.

Emissiones tuae, antiphon on the Magnificat
First Vespers, Celebrations of Mother Earth

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of streams, of springs and underground waters flowing out of valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olives for oil and honey … and you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.

Deuteronomy 8:7-10 (This passage lists what is called “the seven varieites” of the land of Canaan).

I’m “afflicted” with “bean thumb.” Not just dry and sore, but my thumbnail is shattered to the skin from shelling beans from their pods. Other varieties of ailments of Bluestone Farm are nicknamed pepper burn, mulberry stain, corn cut, shovel foot, potato knee, squash burn, onion back, onion sorrow, corn-shuck cut. The local doctor jokes that she treats the sisters in summer for bug bites, in the winter for maple tree injuries, and all year long for tick-born ailments. The sisters also suffer from clumsy encounters with tools, and from sunburn, poison ivy, back strain, spider bites and bee stings, bruises, scrapes, gashes, rashes, and hot flashes. “What we really need is a Jacuzzi,” laments one sister.

After Lauds every day the sisters harvest for an hour. The rest of the day they “preserve” the food: pickling, canning, freezing, drying, cold-storing. The sisters serve the main meal at mid-day, so the dizzying mix of sensations attracts everyone to the kitchen. We’re like late season wasps drunk on over-stimulation.

I’m continually humbled by my lack of recognition of the provender on the table. The crops this year included kale, collard greens, mustard greens, New Zealand spinach, bok choi, Swiss chard, “oh, just greens of every kind,” okra, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, garlic, onion, leeks, scallions, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and currants, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages and cauliflower, field (dry) corn, husk cherries, rhubarb, horseradish, many green bean varieties, peas (snow, shell, dry), numerous winter and summer squashes, tomatillos, apples, pears, and grapes, beets, turnips, parsnips, carrots, celery, Romaneska, and asparagrass. They’ve harvested wild nuts, rosehips, wild grapes and barberries. The herbs include comfrey, borage, dill, coriander and cilantro, basil, thyme, marjoram, oregano, parsley, chives, sweet grass, sage, artemisia, bee balm, wintergreen, rosemary, and bay leaf. All the sisters know all the romantic names of the plants. “Victoria amlicino” or “Ireland Creek Annie,” for example. I’m still learning the gross names. Squash. Pumpkin. Gourd.

I never considered the spectrum of peppers! The sisters grow over thirty kinds including Habenero, Jalapeno, Limon, aci siuri, aji crystal, Alma Paprika, Hungarian Boldog paprika, apple pimento, lipstick pimento, cayenne, Tabasco, Chiltepin, bells: yankee, California wonder, Jimmy Nardello frying pepper. One sister particularly knows, cares for, and preserves the peppers. After canning, drying, roasting, freezing, grinding, pickling, or flaking the harvested peppers, she artistically arranges the jars and spice containers in the laundry room, the butler’s pantry, or the larder.

The effect provides a feeling linked to something deeply satisfying;
women from the dawn of time turning their work into art.

Blessed Holy One,
Thank you for calling me to Your garden.


Noah, minded to know if the waters were abated, sent forth a dove:
And lo, she bare in her mouth an olive leaf newly plucked off,
When she returned unto the ark.
The dove came, bearing in her mouth the token of God’s mercy,
When she returned unto the ark.

Volens Noe, The Respond
Second Vespers, Celebrations of Our Mother Earth

Next: Michaelmas

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